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PORTSIDE  October 2011, Week 5

PORTSIDE October 2011, Week 5

Subject:

Occupy San Francisco: The Teenager Who Was Refused Cancer Treatment

From:

Portside Moderator <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

[log in to unmask]

Date:

Sat, 29 Oct 2011 14:24:46 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (151 lines)

Occupy San Francisco: The Teenager Who Was Refused
Cancer Treatment

    Miran Istina, 18, joined protests after four years
    of being denied life-saving bone marrow transplant
    for leukaemia

By Eoin Reynolds in San Francisco
Guardian (UK)
October 28, 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/28/occupy-san-francisco-cancer-patient

[Occupy San Francisco protester Miran Istina stands
outside the US Bank building on Market Street, San
Francisco. Photograph: Martin Lacey
http://tinyurl.com/3cpc2gp]

As Miran Istina puts it, she has been living on
borrowed time she was 14. Diagnosed with cancer, she
was given just months to live after her health insurer
refused to provide her with life-saving surgery.

Now 18, Istina, from the city of Sisters in Oregon, has
spent the past three weeks living in a tent at the
Occupy San Francisco protest and says she will stay
there indefinitely, despite her illness.

She was inspired to take part in the protest by the
refusal of her insurance company to pay for treatment
for her chronic myelogenous leukaemia.

She said: "They denied me on the terms of a pre-
existing condition. Seeing as I had only had that
insurance for a few months, and I was in early stage
two which meant I had to have had it for at least a
year, they determined it was a pre-existing condition
and denied me healthcare."

Treatment would require a bone marrow transplant and
extensive radiation therapy and chemotherapy, at a cost
of several hundreds of thousands of dollars. Coming
from an ordinary middle-class background, her family
has no way of paying for the surgery that would save
her life.

Following her insurer's refusal, she spent three years
travelling the US looking for a healthcare provider who
would give her a chance at life.

Istina said: "I went all over the place, looking for
someone to give a damn, really, someone to care enough
to treat me. Because we were middle class, we couldn't
afford to treat my disease. We'd be in debt for the
rest of our family life."

After repeated refusals to offer her treatment, she
said: "I decided I was going to spend the rest of my
life doing whatever my heart wants."

The Occupy movement attracted Istina as she ties the
corporate influence on American politics to the
decision that has sentenced her to death.

She said: "The corporate influence on politics
influences just about anything that happens, seeing as
politicians write the plans that healthcare has to
follow. It directly links the fact that insurers only
pick and choose those who are actually worth it
[financially]. I just happen to not be one of the ones
they wanted to be around much longer.

"The decision was absolutely influenced by some
corporation or some bank saying, 'we can't afford her.
She's not worth our money.' In end terms, corporate
greed is going to cost me my life.

"I used to be really upset about it. I'm not as much
any more. I'm angry, for sure, but I think me being
here might help it never happen again. That's why I'm
here. It's that there are other people this is going to
happen to if this movement doesn't succeed and that's
not healthy. I'm done being the victim. However long I
have left is dedicated heart and soul to this movement,
no matter what it takes."

She has immersed herself in the movement, becoming the
chief media relations officer for Occupy SF and
organising fundraising events around the city. On
Thursday afternoon she led a CNN television crew on a
walk through the camp, to show how they were living,
explain their motives and refute claims that the living
conditions are unsanitary.

She said of her new life: "My heart is finally
satisfied."

The Occupy San Francisco movement has seen up to 300
protesters take over the Justin Herman Plaza, at the
Embarcadero in the downtown district since October 5.
The occupiers are given food by local restaurants and
have received donations from supporters to provide
supplies.

Health professionals from the San Francisco General
Hospital are providing round-the-clock care for Istina,
who needs strong pain killers and constant monitoring
of her condition. Earlier in the month she suffered a
kidney malfunction which required urgent hospital
treatment.

Throughout the afternoon four police officers kept a
watchful eye over the groups of tents and makeshift
shelters but the atmosphere was relaxed. When the
officers staged a walk-through some of the occupiers
shared jokes with them. One said: "Please leave the
automatic weapons outside the camp. This is a peaceful
protest."

Another said: "We're not doing any harm. We're just a
bunch of peace-loving hippies."

But a raid on the camp is possible at any time. San
Francisco mayor Ed Lee has repeatedly insisted that the
camp is illegal and all tents should be removed but so
far little has been done to enforce the law.

He has threatened a raid and on Wednesday night
occupiers expected police to move in, sparking a larger
than normal demonstration. Two candidates for the
upcoming mayoral election joined with the protesters
but despite the presence nearby of riot police, the
raid did not go ahead.

___________________________________________

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